Epiphone Les Paul Standard Review

Les Paul Standard Pro II

As a lovely Christmas present, I received this 2018 Ebony Les Paul Standard and immediately fell in love with it.

As someone who has never owned a Les Paul before, I did my research as to know which Les Paul would fit my specifications. The most important of which was neck size and shape. My LP came with a 60’s style slim taper D shape, which was ideal for my small hands.

Sadly, the big trade off between a Gibson and Epiphone is that you do not receive the set neck design of the higher end guitars, the glued neck design does result in a lack of stiffness and tuning stability. Tuning stability is notoriously bad with LP style Head stocks, but is extremely present with the Epiphone. I spend a considerable amount of time tuning my G and B strings only have them knocked down a whole step when I strum too hard.

The quality of the guitar, especially for the money, is not to be under appreciated. The PAF Alnico Classic Hum buckers absolutely scream through high gain while the neck pickup has an extremely smooth, round tone that’s great for clean rhythm or Jazz.

With a proper set up, this line of LP’s is probably the best for the money. Extremely versatile and modern, but paying homage to the traditional Les Paul legacy.


Tribute to The Person Who Taught Me Something

As any frequently practicing musician can attest to, the world of music and the theory of it can quickly become overwhelming.Robert Deleo, bassist of Stone Temple Pilots, and Larry Carlton, solo jazz guitarist, both refrain from attempting to look past their skill cap by simplifying their playing to the levels they feel can allow for the most natural and clearest expression of their musical ideas.

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I specifically remember an interview of Robert during one of his bass clinics in L.A. Robert puts a big emphasis on being humble as a musician, to really be an intimate listener and learner to truly wrap your head around being able to clearly express what you hear from within your own head.

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Robert’s whole demeanor and, for lack of a better word, “coolness” really makes his messages about humbleness that much more impactful. He spends much more time relating his influences to your own, leaning more towards actively participating in

The line that really stuck to me was when Robert says, “Be humble in the face of music” which seems to more of a motto that he has lived by. He always follows with the idea that songs must be fulfilling, songs have to be written by a natural process, not by the attempt of a direct copy of your influences.

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Out of the thousands of questions I could really ask Robert about music, the most valuable would have to be something related to how you could maintain such persistent humbleness, even with the success of Stone Temple Pilots. As a teenager I can’t help but question the level of humbleness I could even have at such a young age, would it be worth it to give myself a little confidence every once in awhile as to avoid not overdoing a false sense of humbleness.

My Top 3 Most Influential Guitar Players

3. Peter Buck: as criminally underrated as some guitarists that I love are, Buck’s playing is far too unique for me to ignore. I could not think of a more unique guitarists that has created such popular pop melodies as Buck has with R.E.M. Buck’s slide guitar has always been of interest to me as well as his tone that is extremely bright sounds absolutely massive when paired with a slide. Buck’s use of open arpeggiated voicings lend themselves perfectly into the mood of all of R.E.M’s greatest hits.

Peter with his signature Rickenbacker Jetglo 360

2. Chris Poland: Without a doubt my favorite Fusion/Metal/Jazz/Shredder/Funk… really I could go on forever about the pure versatility of Poland’s playing, but the Bebop lines that he can somehow incorporate into a thrash album speaks for itself. Poland is the cleanest shredder to ever pick up a guitar, Period. His work with Megadeth and OHM are what I consider to be the pinnacle of uniqueness paired with genuine virtuosity. Poland’s isolated solo track from Peace Sells says it all.


  1. Dean Deleo: Coming as no surprise to anyone who knows me, Dean’s playing has been the key factor in my interest to study chordal voicings and really let my own personal study be expressed through as many chord progressions as possible. Deleo’s tone is impeccable, if I had $2,700 to throw away on a Demeter TPG-3 Dean Deleo reissue preamp I would. I have never heard such a full, layered tone that cuts through the mix with so much brightness and high end, it really does amaze me listening to his isolated tracks.

    Dean rocking his mid 70’s P90 loaded Les Paul Traditional

Ibanez AC240 Artwood Grand Concert Acoustic Review

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The Ibanez AC240 Artwood Grand Concert Acoustic is the Ibanez approach of blending the classic Grand Concert body with a wide neck, with the modern styling of artwood mahogany.

In my experience with jam sessions and overall practice, the guitar sounds beautiful with a punchy mid range and plenty of low-end. For recording the guitar lacks sustain compared to higher end acoustics of the same body type, but overall a general EQ and compression can easily allow this guitar to fit into a professional sounding mix.

Playability is very maximal, especially after a professional setup. My guitar came setup from Ibanez with the bridge and saddle height adjusted perfectly, requiring only tightening of the tuning pegs.

For any player worried about tuning stability, with a set of 12’s this guitar has some of the greatest tuning stability of any guitar I’ve ever used.

I would definitely put this guitar at the top of any budget list. An absolutely solid purchase for any guitarist looking to upgrade from a poor quality acoustic. Unless gigging is extremely frequent, this guitar will hold up with frequent use and abuse.

Dean Deleo: Most Underrated Innovator of the 90’s Alternative Scene and His Top 7 Solos

7. Silvergun Superman (Stone Temple Pilots) 

Starting the list is Dean’s longest solo from STP’s second studio album “Purple”. Dean’s signature massive lead tone with his fully driven preamp is ever-present in this lengthy outro solo. One of Dean’s flashier solos, it shows his sense of melody and rhythm, without straying from the albums signature sound.



6. Hello Hello (Talk Show)

Dean’s first trip with the STP instrumentalists with a new singer came with an album full of unique solos. Deleo used the new identity of Talk Show to layer his solos with a completely different sound, but keeping his core style the same. This nearly nonsensical solo is completely layered with a wah (an effect Deleo uses quite sparingly when recording) all the way through. It’s refreshing for Dean to really change up his work, and draw on some very different influences in his playing.


5. I Got You (Stone Temple Pilots) 

The outlier of this entire list, Dean’s solo from their fourth studio album “No.4” is completely country inspired. With even a brief slide fill, this solo meets the standards of an extremely melodious country blues solo.


4. Between The Lines (Stone Temple Pilots)

From STP’s self titled album, and last studio recording with Scott. Dean summoned his inner shredder and went all out in one of my personal favorites to play. The experience and practice of the years of Deleo’s guitar playing really shined on his final album with Scott.


3. Vasoline (Stone Temple Pilots)

Dean summoned his inner Jimmy Page in what is arguably STP’s largest commercial success. One his faster solos, Deleo shows that his speed does not come unwarranted, it comes along with dissonant arpeggios of his signature interesting chord voicings.


2. Trippin on a Hole in a Paper Heart (Stone Temple Pilots) 

Easily the most catchy of any STP tune with Robert’s most recognizable and appreciated bassline. The most interesting blues inspired riff comes after the second chorus and Dean comes all in. Wacky (in the most positive sense) could describe this solo that goes absolutely all over the fretboard. In the live performances, Dean’s passion and energy is unrelenting and is carried out through the entire solo.


1. And So I Know (Stone Temple Pilots) 

Probably the most underrated song in the entire discography of STP, so too is Dean’s solo. Coming at the top ranking is a solo that I believe shows the entirety of Deleo’s jazz influence. Sadly live performances are sparse, but the entirety of the studio recorded version is just as stellar.

The Rock Star Overdose Epidemic

It’s no secret the music industry has been plagued with celebrity overdoses, from the infamous 27 club to the more recent overdoses of Scott Weiland, Prince, Tom Petty, and Mac Miller. The argument is made that society is still largely failing a growing overdose crisis. There are many causes that have been presented as almost inevitable opportunities for one to fall into the chasm of addiction in the music scene.

Most drugs addictions are simply a result of their environment, this is especially true in the case of musicians who are indefinitely guaranteed to be surrounded by addictive substances. With that scene of junkies, dealers, and users one who’s insecure and vulnerable can easily be persuaded into using drugs or alcohol as a mechanism to cope with intense pressure of live performance. In the more successful end of the spectrum, the musicians who have “made” it fall victim to having an almost disposable income, drugs and alcohol become completely inexpensive and readily available at dangerous volumes.

It is unfortunate that as music progresses, so to does the overdose count of so many of the most talented individuals to be thrown into the spotlight. Controlled substances may forever plague the music industry as an inevitable dark side, but hopefully the musicians of the future can learn to avoid the same unfortunate mistakes that the victims of drug addiction made in their pasts.

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Amy Whinehouse, after alcohol recovery and relapsing after 6 months sober

The Teenage “Golden age” of My Music Taste

I used to believe that all pop music was processed, meaningless, and presented no real musicality. Although it was a very immature opinion felt by my 14 year old self, I felt it strongly and everyone who shared that opinion were the only people who I could give any credibility too.

I was so caught up in what I genuinely believed to be the “best” most “technically proficient” music I could find. But when I started doing some research into the algorithms of teenage music taste, I found that around 14 was the “golden age” of music’s influence on your activation of dopamine receptors. I guess there was a pretty clear explanation as to why I was so emotionally attached to such a narrow genre and selection.

I started to understand that I was really the only thing holding myself back from experimenting with my musical interests and finding some more influences. I began leaving my comfort zone and taking my predisposed bias out of the equation when listening to new music.

I really strived to learn music theory, there was countless content creators that examined some of my favorite songs from a purely musical standpoint. These Youtubers helped me to keep my mind open, to listen as a musician.

So now I share my open mindedness with all the musicians I have had the pleasure of knowing. From friends online who I share music with; even my own friends who don’t possess the same affection for music, but enjoy variety. I learned that music is about open mindedness and respecting all music as an art form. It’s not worth pretending to hate something you never even listen to, giving all music a chance really gives you the opportunity to soak in some influences that only help you to express your artistic ability.